Directors, what is your take on building an end of the year show which encompasses all your dancers' and faculty's hard work while demonstrating continuity and a pleasurable viewing experience? Any memorable performance that we attend usually has rhyme or reason to it, right? A theme or a choreographic sensibility should reflect cohesiveness throughout the performance. Often times, dance concerts which are disjointed and lacking in direction leave the audience feeling the same way and the same will hold true for your own audiences. This is glaringly obvious when it is, shall we say, an "extended" performance without intent, but we need to keep the audience on the edge of their chairs, engaged and awake from beginning to end! So how do we do all this and keep them coming back for more?

The recital theme is a clever tool used by many studio owners for many, many years to hone in on the cohesive feeling we discussed above. Simple in concept, choosing a theme for your recital gives the performance a focus and an internal storyline viewers can follow throughout the show, from piece to piece. It also gives your faculty an idea of where to go with their choreography while staying on the same page as everyone else. Essentially the recital theme is often most successful when it is broad enough to not leave your teachers feeling artistically stifled by the theme presented to them, but specific enough that they are not left scratching their heads with too many options! It is a fine balance. It also is important to recognize that choosing a theme should demonstrate professionalism and artistry. Assuming we all have dancers that range in age and level from little ones through teens, you want to decide on a theme that is age appropriate and family friendly; meaning nothing that is overly juvenile or overly mature. It needs to appeal to the masses. It should also reflect who your studio is and show the heart of it. Asking your faculty for suggestions is often a great way to get a sense of where they are at as well; especially since they are the ones most knowledgeable about the students they are teaching in a given year. They will know first-hand what might work best and be successful. It is always nice when studio director and faculty can collaborate on something like this and usually transcends into a hit of a show!

Also, remember that music selection is key to a successful recital. You want your teachers to be able to take theme and then find new and exciting music we don't hear on the radio every five minutes. It should inspire out of the box thinking and new and refreshing song selections; hence, another reason why the theme needs to be just broad enough to allow for an array of music options. Below are some recital themes I've seen which have worked really well but the ideas are endless! Be creative. Be bold. Be innovative and whatever you decide, remember that the end of the year performance is the cumulative reflection on your studio, its mission and the image you are projecting. It will be the essence of everyone's hard work throughout the year and should be something that entertains and showcases your dancers in the best light! Good luck!

Recital theme ideas:

  • "Welcome to Hollywood"

  • "Name in Lights"

  • "Wishes & Dreams"

  • "Taking Flight"

  • "The New Renaissance"

  • "The Painters"

  • "Moving & Grooving"

  • "Beyond the Stars"

  • "CREATE"

  • "Beyond Imagination"

  • "Heart & Soul"

  • "Beyond your Wildest Dreams"

  • "The Green Theme"

  • "Here on Earth"

  • "Dancing through the Decades"

  • "New York, New York"

  • "Move to the Rhythm'

  • "Making Waves"

  • "Calendar Girl"

  • "The Name Game"

  • "Around the World & Back Again"

  • "Lights, Camera, Action!"